Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe to appear in Iranian court next month

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe to appear in Iranian court next month
Courtesy Richard Ratcliffe via CNN
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is charged with "spreading propaganda."

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe will appear in an Iranian court on December 10 to face charges of “spreading propaganda,” her husband told CNN Thursday.

The dual British-Iranian citizen has been in jail in Iran for the past 19 months after being given a five-year sentence on espionage charges that she and her family vehemently deny.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe found herself at the center of an international dispute between the UK and Iran following a mistake by British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.

Johnson mistakenly told a British parliamentary committee earlier this month that Zaghari-Ratcliffe was in Iran teaching journalists when she was detained. Her family and employer have always insisted she was visiting family on vacation.

The seriousness of Johnson’s error became apparent days later when Zaghari-Ratcliffe was summoned to an unscheduled court hearing at which the Foreign Secretary’s remarks were cited as proof that she had engaged in “propaganda against the regime.”

Fears have grown that her five-year sentence could be lengthened.

Johnson later corrected his remarks, stating that she was in Iran on holiday, and apologized to Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s family.

He is set to travel to Iran before the end of the year to meet with Zaghari-Ratcliffe at her request.

‘No stone unturned’

Speaking after a meeting last week with Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband, Richard Ratcliffe, Johnson insisted the British government was doing everything in its power to free her.

“I can tell you that people here in the Foreign Office and across government have been working very hard over the last 19 months to secure the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and indeed to solve some other very difficult consular cases in Iran,” Johnson said.

“And we’re going to continue to do that and we will leave absolutely no stone unturned in our efforts to do that.”

Zaghari-Ratcliffe was detained at the airport in Tehran in April 2016 on her way back to the UK from visiting family with Gabriella, her then 22-month-old daughter.

The Iranian government accused her of working for a UK media network involved in activities against Iran. She was sentenced to five years in jail and her child was placed in the care of her parents.

Her employer, the Thomson Reuters Foundation, rejected the allegations.

Richard Ratcliffe is hoping to gain a visa so he can travel to Iran with Johnson before the end of this year.